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Custom Orthotics and Shoes

Custom Orthotics and Shoes

If you have pain under your heel first thing in the morning, or at the back of your heel after activity, you may be glad to know that many foot conditions such as these can be treated with the help of orthotics. They are a conservative, non-invasive way to fix alignment problems, ease discomfort, and add cushioning, among other things. They can either be purchased in a store or prescribed by a podiatrist.

What Is An Orthotic?

It is a device that is worn inside your shoes to help fix a problem with your feet. They have two main functions: to support the foot where needed to control improper motion, or to add padding and cushioning between the foot and the shoe. The main objectives in using orthoses are to correct a problem and to ease your pain while the issue is being fixed.  They can be made out of plastic, metal, rubber, leather, or foam padding. Many shoes are able to accommodate these devices, but not all, so it’s important to try them out with shoes you wear every day.

Custom-Made Orthotics

If your device is prescribed by a medical professional and made for your unique feet it is considered custom-made. You cannot get these just anywhere. They are a bit more of an investment, but they are well worth it. There are two types:

  • Functional – these address imbalances in the foot by providing support where it is needed to give a better foot motion during activity. They can help with pain from tendonitis or plantar fasciitis.

  • Accommodative– they provide extra cushioning and support for painful areas like calluses or diabetic foot ulcers.

Custom foot orthotics are made out of durable materials that are meant to last many years. There are a number of foot conditions that can be treated with these inserts, so that foot function is restored and your pain is gone.

Over-the-Counter Orthotics

You have noticed these shoe inserts at your pharmacy or grocery store. You can get them almost anywhere and anyone can use them. There are several types:

  • Arch supports– for people with either high arches or flat feet. They offer support for the arches and ease discomfort.

  • Insoles – they offer cushioning on the inside of your shoe. They are typically made out of soft material such as gel or foam.

  • Heel liners– often used in patients with thinner skin or heel pads who need extra cushioning in that area.

  • Foot cushions– used to treat calluses or blisters by protect your feet from rubbing against your shoes.


When you make the decision to purchase an over the counter orthotic there are some things to keep in mind. Consider your activity level and how comfortable the insert is. Try it on in the store if possible with the shoes you wear regularly. Also think about your overall health. If you have diabetes or a serious foot condition you may want to talk to your podiatrist about getting something a bit sturdier.

Getting the Proper Fit

Everything from serious foot disorders to more common foot and ankle conditions can be exacerbated by one, avoidable cause: inappropriate, poor quality, and/or ill-fitting shoes. Any podiatrist will tell you that a quality, properly fitted shoe pays big dividends for your feet—now and in the future.

The most important quality to look for in shoes is durable construction that will protect your feet and keep them comfortable. Shoes that do not fit properly can cause bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes and other disabling foot disorders.

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